By Jeffrey Kopman
Coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing are common symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but two other symptoms - depression and inflammation - might be linked in some patients, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia.
Using depression and respiratory symptom questionnaires, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh surveyed 450 patients and found that 37 men and 49 women reported being depressed. The depressed patients were more likely to have high levels of a biomarker that can cause inflammation and pain throughout the body, the researchers found, and these levels were unrelated to the severity of COPD, but were linked to depression.
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Systemic inflammation like the depressed COPD patients had can cause pain and worsen COPD symptoms. Researchers believe that the pain associated with this inflammation causes depression, more than having just COPD or other symptoms.
"Depression has been linked with a number of symptoms and comorbidities [when patients have more than one condition at the same time] in COPD patients," said Hilary Strollo, M.S., a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, in a press release. "Our findings add evidence of a strong relationship between depression and one of the hallmarks of COPD, systemic inflammation, independent of the severity of disease."
Strollo believes these findings should encourage doctors to assess and treat depression in people with COPD - potentially relieving some of their COPD symptoms.
COPD affects approximately 10 percent of people worldwide, including about 13 million U.S. adults. Almost half of COPD patients are believed to have depression or other psychiatric disorders.
American Thoracic Society 2013: More New COPD Research
- Antibiotic therapy limits hospital trips. A 12-month course of treatment with azithromycin cut down on the number of COPD flare-ups and therefore the number of extra trips to the hospital. The therapy was tested on patients who had already been hospitalized for COPD events, because these patients face a much higher risk for future episodes that require hospitalization.
- Many COPD patients don't need the full course of steroid therapy. The standard 14-day steroid therapy regimen given to patients with acute exacerbations may be nine days longer than necessary, according to a study published in JAMA. Of the 311 patients tested, 56 were given a 5-day course of therapy, while 57 got steroids for 14 days. Researchers found no difference in results between the two groups.
- Whites, women are more likely to be diagnosed with COPD. Regardless of the severity of their COPD, African Americans and men were found to be underdiagnosed for the lung condition, according to a new study from the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. At all stages of the disease, African Americans were far more likely to have been previously undiagnosed with COPD upon further examination. Men experienced the same challenge getting a COPD diagnosis. Future research should look into the reasoning behind the disparities.
"COPD Pain Linked to Depression, Study Finds" originally appeared on Everyday Health.